Nice mellow one from A&M master arranger Nick DeCaro (Claudine Longet, many more), but this is probably my fifth "favorite" song off of this wonderful album, with versions of songs by Stevie Wonder ("happier than the morning sun") and Joni Mitchell ("all i want") that even the composers would have to admit have value added. I don't know if Ms. Mitchell necessarily sees the humor in changing the lyric "I want to knit you a sweater" to "I want to lift your sweater", but I do. Also a radical arrangement of "tea for two" only Bob Azzam can compete with. Nice comments by "konsu" on Nick's earlier album only show up if you put a space between "De" and "Caro".
from Italian Graffiti (MCA MVCM-21036), available on CD (MCA Japan)
29 Jan 03 ·konsu: Cordially corrected for hair splitters,and for the benefit of search engines everywhere!I'm sure Joni
has lifted a top or two in her heyday too!His work needs WAY MORE stateside attention indeed. 03 Apr 03 ·drchilledair: Even if you think you don't know who Nick DeCaro is, chances are you are familiar with his music, via his arrangements for many Golden Age of Warner-Reprise "Burbank Sound" recordings incl: Gordon Lightfoot's 'If You Could Read My Mind', James Taylor's 'Shower The People' and Randy Newman's 'Marie'. By conservative estimate, as producer, arranger, musician, songwriter, or singer, DeCaro, who died in 1992, partnered with over a hundred groups or artists - including not just Warners-Reprise artists like Arlo Guthrie, Maria Muldaur, Ry Cooder, the Everly Brothers, the Mojo Men & Harpers Bizarre, but also such diverse recorded citizenry as Barbra Streisand, the Ventures, Claudine Longet, Chris Montez, the Sandpipers, Del Shannon, Gary Lewis, et al - amassing a catalogue in excess of 300 albums and sundry 45rpm singles. In an interview I conducted with Randy Newman in 2001, he described DeCaro as being almost pathologically shy. Thus explaining, perhaps, the state of anonymity that still surrounds Nick, despite his prolific achievements. As a journalist I have devoted some of the last couple of years trying to redress this oversight. If you are interested, one result is an article I published in Japan in 2001. The English language version is available at communities.msn.com/NickDeCaro. A more recent article can be found on the web at www.spectropop.com/NickDeCaro
Classic tune. Chuck Rainey on Bass, Rick Marotta Drums. Don and Walter doing their usual. My all-time favorite rhythm section. Michael McDonald's back-up vocals are interesting. Lyrics you can relate to, as soon as you decode them...
from Aja (MCA 088 112 056-2) available on CD - same (same)
"Kid Charlemagne" sounds like it's starting in the middle -- a little instrumental passage between stanzas, or the middle of a drug bust. Whatever it is, it works: the song drops you right into a seedy, sun-soaked, coke-fueled, sour-tasting hangover of a scene, populated by "Day-Glo freaks" and "low-rent friends."
What makes the song most memorable for me are the two all-too-brief soaring guitar solos unleashed by Larry Carlton (and drums by Bernard Purdie!), particularly the one that still echoes in the ears of the listener on the way out. That and the unforgettable couplet, bracketed in the last verse (and sung by Donald Fagen with a half-faltering note that makes it sound like undisguised joy) for maximum effect:
"Is there gas in the car?
Yes, there's gas in the car."
Sometimes it's just the slightest detail that turns a song into a masterpiece.
from A Decade of Steely Dan, available on CD (MCA)
02 Oct 03 ·tinks: i've never thought much of steely dan. and i still don't. but reading this review set off a frenzy of activity in my little brain trying to figure out where i knew "kid charlemagne" from as a pop-culture reference. at first i thought..."was it the name of a boxer on the simpsons?" was it from mr. show? no...it was the college radio handle of the dad on "malcolm in the middle". 05 Apr 04 ·Latimer: Chuck Rainey's bass work on this track is absolutely great. It's the epitome of his style, a veritable thesaurus of syncopation. - Kid Charlemagne supposedly refers to Augustus Owsley Stanley III, sometime purveyor of high-grade acid to the hippie elite, and raided in 1967.
On "Aja", Donald and Walter reached the zenith of their perfection, with an unsurpassed attention to sonic detail and texture. In fact, the recording of these 40 minutes of music took them about a year of studio work. They assembled an incredible array of the finest session musicians around at the time, creating 7 timeless tracks of jazz-rock fusion, impeccably engineered and produced by Roger Nichols (this is the other Roger Nichols!) and Gary Katz. "Deacon Blues" is certainly one of the most heartfelt, mellow tracks they ever created. It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly effortless they create this elegance in the harmonies and chord progressions.